Dilemma: my husband doesn't want to retire but I'm lonely

Jo Brand / 24 July 2017

A reader would like her husband to retire so they can spend more time together, but he is nervous about retiring.



Dilemma: my husband is nervous about retiring

My husband, 66, has worked for the same employer for 40 years. I have been retired for ten years (I’m 64) and would like him to retire too, so we can do things together. 

However, every time I mention it, he gets very agitated and will hardly discuss it. He says he’s terrified by the idea of retiring and claims he’ll have nothing to do. 

He gets very tired and time at home is spent napping. I sometimes get lonely and feel I have waited long enough, but I don’t want to force him. What can I do?

Jo Brand's advice

Well, we would all like our partners to do exactly what we want and we all think we know best, but let me tell you a couple of things I have absorbed about retirement.

Depending on the individual, it is not always the expected pleasure people imagine, and those who continue to work seem in many ways to do better than those who don’t.

Women tend to be far more adept at social networking. In your husband’s case, his only independent connection to others appears to be at work. And it’s the one activity that reinforces his sense of self-worth.

It’s quite possible that when he retires you will be facing something more toxic than his propensity for napping. He may turn out to be a full-time grump, or even depressed. So, as ever, I tend to go for the compromise.

Is there any chance he could work part-time – just three days a week, perhaps? This would stop him being so tired all the time, give him a chance to see how life might pan out if he retired completely and provide you with a get-out clause: were you to coerce him into retiring and he hated it, it would all be your fault.

You want a retirement with some sunshine in it, not one over which the dark clouds of mismatched aspirations scud by every day, so ease him in slowly!

Read our guide to finding purpose in retirement



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